Braun Increases Shaver Production Line up to 85% with Robotic System
by Val Cureton
Adept Technology, Inc.
The Shaver Division of Braun GmbH (Kronberg, Germany) needed to shorten product cycles and quickly reconfigure its assembly lines to accommodate new shaver models. One goal called for reducing assembly time per unit. To meet this challenge, the Wallduern plant set out to remake its shaver production process around a flexible assembly line that would deliver the needed manufacturing improvements. One key shortcoming in Braun's former system was unacceptable levels of downtime. This was a direct result of the custom-built fixed bowlfeeders used to supply 60 different parts to the shaver line. The bowlfeeders were constantly jamming or mis-feeding causing numerous stops.
Braun decided to implement a new flexible automation manufacturing line. The new system incorporated six Adept 550s and one Cobra Tabletop robot equipped with the Adept FlexFeeder 250 system. The FlexFeeder immediately corrected the bowlfeeder issue by allowing the new line to feed small parts of random size, shape, bulk and orientation into a workcell. The key to the FlexFeeder system is its complete integration with the Adept Vision Guidance System. The conveyor system scatters parts within the field of view of the vision system's camera. Instead of orienting parts itself, the conveyor presents them separated and unoriented, but stable to a vision-guided Adept 550 robot. The high-speed 550 performs part acquisition, orientatation and placement functions. A special backlight aids the camera and robot in acquiring the parts. Braun estimates that the Adept FlexFeeder system helped to increase the overall efficiency of the shaver production line from 70 to 85 percent and the new automated line has decreased assembly time per unit form 5 seconds to 3 seconds.